A bread machine may be an important asset to your kitchen. I can, but do not want to, live without it.
Once upon a time, I was a lost cause in a kitchen store. Santa Barbara was a rather small town when I lived there as a college student, newlywed, and then a young mom. And”the” kitchen store was Jordano’s. It was upscale as most thing in Santa Barbara are. It was a wonder to behold. I drooled with jealousy every time I walked .
I spent plenty of money on dishes and kitchen gadgets in those early years of homemaking. Some of those things went the way oaf the garage sale years back. Others, like my favorite dishes, are with us now.
Over time, I have learned to remain out of kitchen stores, unless I have a specific need. My knees still get weak when I walk through Sur la Table or Williams-Sonoma. I have a husband-turned-Alton Brown-fan who regularly reminds me about the hazards of unitaskers.
That doesn’t, however, deter me from the small kitchen appliances that I know and love. With time I have discovered which items really help me in the kitchen and justify their use of kitchen real estate.
Can we talk bread machines?
When I married Fish, I moved into his small 200-square foot studio. It was the pool house/guest home on a larger property. His landlords became household to us during the five years we lived there. 1 day she brought home a bread machine. It was big and bulky. We were all fascinated about how it worked. I remember gathering in their kitchen, clustering with their kids around the machine, to peek through the window.
It was like 1950s tv for the 90s.
Since we lived in such a small area, it didn’t look like a sensible purchase for us.
Fast forward five years and we were a young family living in a 2000 square foot house. We lived in a rural area. The majority of my friends grew vegetables in the garden, ground their own wheat, and baked their own bread. Best Gluten Free Bread makers
I borrowed a buddy’s mill and heavy-duty mixer to find out if I was prepared for the expense. I wasn’t. Too loud, too bulky, too much flour dust flying. I didn’t see how a Bosch would actually help me in the kitchen, especially when I hated to wash it.
Instead, while surfing through Target I saw that bread machines had reduced in cost in addition to size since I’d last seen one. The cheapest version was a slick $50, significantly less than the mill and mixer combination I’d been contemplating.
Hubby got me one for Christmas that year, 2001. Over the last dozen years, we’ve gone through two machines, always the lower end model from Target or Walmart. This means the Oster or Sunbeam by default. I have no experience with the higher end models, but I know folks that love them.
One essential companion to a bread machine is The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger. I purchased this early in my bread machine ownership. My copy is falling apart.
(A fun aside: little did I know twelve years ago that the man who edited this book would someday be my cookbook editor! 2001 Jessica would be floored.)
This bread machine cookbook provides excellent tips on how best to get the best performance from your machine as well as how to adapt your own recipes into bread machine recipes. It’s really not too difficult.
Over the years I’ve enlarged my baking supplies to include parchment paper, silpat mats, and a bench knife. These are not necessary for using the bread machine, but they’re nice to have.
Use of a Bread Machine
I will be honest, I’m not currently a massive fan of bread baked in the machine. The paddle sometimes lands in a weird place. The bread sometimes sinks. The Bread Machine cookbook helps counteract some of that, offering tips and foolproof recipes.
Once upon a time, I baked bread on a daily basis in the machine which worked really well for us. However, since my family is now able to inhale a loaf of bread in a matter of seconds, I find it more useful for making bread.
Ah, excellent question. I have a love-hate connection with my Kitchen Aid mixer, an appliance that my husband bought me for my birthday about five decades ago. It’s the mess and clean up that slay me.
Plus, to make bread dough in the mixer, I have to think. I must watch and adjust how long the ingredients have to mix. I may need to change the hook or paddle.
I don’t really have to think with the bread machine. I just add the ingredients and push start. I come back ten minutes later with a rubber spatula to make sure what is mixing well to the dough ball. Then I just walk away. No greased bowls, no climbing time, no thought.
We use the bread machine weekly to make pizza dough as well as several times a month to prepare other baked goods to freeze.
Care and storage
Three bread machines in twelve years? I’m not positive if that’s a fantastic record or not. I am sure as soon as I hit publish on this post, the current machine will perish. That is what happened the last time I waxed eloquent about the bread machine.
Our first two machines outlived their bread pans. The bread pans are more costly to replace than buying a new machine. It should not be that way, but it is. Take good care of the pan.
Some folks don’t like the notion of storing such a large machine. In seasons when I used it on a daily basis, I was happy to have it on the counter. Nowadays, it’s saved in a lower cabinet of a desk in our kitchen. We pull it out a couple of times a week and then put it back in. In seasons when it sees a lot of use, I leave it on the desk which doesn’t really get used as a desk.
If you don’t have kitchen storage area, you can stash it in a nearby closet or cupboard in the garage or hall.